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Iowa Auditor Rob Sands applauds decision to release meat packing plant positive covid test numbers

Rob Sand
DES MOINES – This morning the State of Iowa confirmed the following statistics regarding COVID-19 outbreaks at several of Iowa’s meat packing facilities:

-Tyson, Columbus Junction: 221 cases, 26% of those tested
-Iowa Premium, Tama: 258 cases, 39% of those tested
-Tyson, Waterloo: 444 cases, 17% of those tested
-Tyson, Perry: 731 cases, 58% of those tested
-TPI Composites: 131 cases, 13% of those tested

The release of these numbers comes 9 days after State Auditor Rob Sand released an advisory pursuant to Iowa code 11.6(7) and 11.11 that stated The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)is a federal law that protects “personally identifiable health information.” HIPAA prevents the disclosure of any information that could identify the name of an infected person. It does not prevent disclosure of aggregate data, statistics, or other information that doesn’t identify an individual. For example, HIPAA does not prevent the disclosure of the number of individuals in a long-term care facility or a packing plant who have COVID-19, nor the identity of the business in question.

“I am glad to see packing plants outbreak numbers made public, but disappointed it took weeks after I called for it and nine days after we issued an official advisory. We should never see a corporation or a public official claiming that HIPAA justifies withholding the big picture from the public.” Said Auditor Sand.

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